FBI, IRS investigating Massachusetts state Senator Brian Joyce

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BOSTON >> The FBI and the IRS are investigating state Sen. Brian Joyce.

The agencies are conducting "court-authorized activity in connection with an ongoing federal investigation" at Joyce's law office in Canton, said Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the Boston office of the FBI. She declined further comment, citing the nature of the ongoing investigation.

Joyce's attorney, Howard Cooper, said the Democrat from Milton is cooperating with law enforcement.

"It is unfortunate that recent stories in the media appear to have sparked an investigation," Cooper said in a statement. "Senator Joyce has been cooperating with each inquiry that has taken place to date resulting from those stories and believes that he has done absolutely nothing wrong."

Last May, Senate President Stan Rosenberg sent a letter to the State Ethics Commission to review Joyce's conduct following a report in The Boston Globe of potential conflicts of interest focusing on whether Joyce used his position as a state senator to boost his law practice.

Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, said at the time that Joyce had agreed to step down from two key posts he held in the Senate, assistant majority leader and chairman of the Committee of Bills in Third Reading, until the probe was completed.

In January, Joyce agreed to pay nearly $5,000 for using campaign funds to pay for his son's 2014 high school graduation party.

The state Office of Campaign and Political Finance said at the time Joyce used campaign funds for personal expenses and failed to disclose campaign finance activity or keep detailed records.

Joyce said at the time that there was "no finding of wrongdoing on my part."

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has also called on the ethics panel to investigate an arrangement that let Joyce receive free dry cleaning from a local shop for more than a decade.

Baker said in January during his monthly radio show on WGBH-FM that the arrangement, first detailed by the Globe, justifies "a pretty quick and pretty immediate review."

According to the Globe, Joyce took his suits, his family's clothes and sometimes his aides' clothes to Woodlawn Cleaners after owner Jerry Richman offered to clean his clothes for free in 1997.

Joyce's attorneys say he received the service in exchange for free or reduced-price legal services he provided to Richman. Joyce said in a statement the legal services "far exceeded any dry cleaning offered."

While stepping aside from his leadership posts, Joyce continued to serve as chairman of another Senate committee that is studying government efficiency.

Baker on Wednesday declined to comment specifically on the investigation, but said he was troubled by questions previously raised about Joyce's relationships with people in his district.

Baker stopped short of calling for Joyce's resignation despite a similar demand made earlier in the day by the head of the Massachusetts Republican Party.

"I certainly support the Republican Party, but I tend to be careful when it comes to using terms like that," Baker told reporters. "There's an investigation underway. We should see where it goes."

Kirsten Hughes, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, called on Joyce to resign Wednesday.

David Giannotti, a spokesman for the state Ethics Commission, said the agency's rules prevented him from confirming or denying whether the panel had investigated Joyce. The panel has issued no decisions regarding the lawmaker.

A spokesman for Rosenberg said Wednesday that the Senate would be "fully cooperative with any and all requests from law enforcement," regarding Joyce, but said the Senate leader would not comment further until authorities completed their investigation.

Joyce's district consists of all or portions of Avon, Braintree, Canton, Milton, Randolph, Sharon, Stoughton, Easton, East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater.

Joyce, 53, was first elected to the Senate in 1998 after serving one term in the Massachusetts House.


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